What is mindfulness?
Put it simply, mindfulness is exerting effort to focus one's attention towards something specific. Thoughts that may end up distracting the person are deliberately nudged away to be able to focus. This is usually associated with time, focusing one's attention on the present moment, but can be used for everything else.
When mindfulness is used as meditation, that is, contemplating in a peaceful yet controlled manner, the addiction and craving, it can be a very powerful tool. It is composed of three key elements: remembering, being aware, and putting attention to it. The person needs to be aware of the craving they wish to take control of, put all their attention to it, and remember why they want to take control of it, keeping it in its place.
What mindfulness does in terms of cravings and addiction is they become better in living in the present, not worrying about the future rewards when they satisfy their addiction and not feeling bad about the past givings-in to their cravings. This helps them get rid of the wrong pleasant emotions they feel when they give in to the cravings, and the unpleasant emotions of guilt afterwards.
More importantly, mindfulness meditation increases the person's ability to be more aware of the cravings they are trying to get rid of, or avoid, or reduce. This goes hand in hand with their self-awareness, which has an overall benefit for the person, as they are able to be more accepting of themselves, which leads to less stress and anxiety, and give them more control of their emotions, which in turn strengthens their resolve against their cravings.
It is the exact opposite of what a vicious cycle is!
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Why are cravings strong?
Depending on what is being craved for, a craving is strong because it comes from the subconscious, after consciously satisfying the body and mind with a certain thing or activity. And when something is desired by the subconscious, it can be very hard to break free from it.
One of the big reasons why cravings are so hard to break off of is the association between the craving, and the reward. Many of us experience rewards on a daily basis, but addicts and cravers desire the rewards beyond simply just liking them. And that's what makes a craving and addiction so powerful, because many times the rewards are thought to be unreachable through any other means.
How to perform mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is done almost like any other meditation method, which we outlined in a previous blog post here. But in general, it involves the following basic steps:
- Sitting comfortably with good posture, depending on the kind of meditation selected.
- Controlled, deep breathing to relax the mind and body
- Focusing on the breath and nothing else (at least in the beginning.) Anything related to the breathing (how it fills the lungs with air, how the air rushes in the nostrils, for example) can be used as focal points.
- When the mind begins to wander, or more importantly, think about the craving, this is when extra steps are to be taken. Depending on your level of mindfulness or control, this can be any of the following:
- gently nudging your mind away from thinking about the craving and focusing on the breathing.
- focusing on the triggers of the craving. Why did you think and feel about the craving despite meditating and focusing on the breathing?
- recognizing the emotions that arise from feeling the craving. Did you feel excited at the prospect of giving in? Do you feel angry or frustrated that you're meditating instead of indulging?
- taking control and telling yourself that you are not your craving and your addiction, and that you dictate whether or not it makes you happy.
Mindfulness meditation is really about what the name implies: being more mindful. It is about focusing and recognizing the craving, and dealing with it. Try it for anything that you feel is starting to take control of your life, rather than the other way around, and it can do wonders to your new year's resolutions! Be inspired to manifest positive change in your life with the help of this binaural beats track.
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